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HomeGeneralFlorida Teachers Sue State Over Anti-Pronoun Law in Schools

Florida Teachers Sue State Over Anti-Pronoun Law in Schools

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Three Florida teachers filed a lawsuit against Florida for its law banning teachers from using their preferred pronouns in school. The plaintiffs argue the new state law violates their constitutional rights. Their case takes issue with Subsection 3 of the Florida statutes that took effect in July.

This subsection states that any public school employee “may not provide to a student his or her preferred personal title or pronouns if such preferred personal title or pronouns do not correspond to his or her sex.” The state law defines sex as based on someone’s reproductive organs at birth. 

Also, teachers who violate this law could face revocation or suspension of their teaching certificate or other penalties. However, the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida, asks the court to block the teacher pronoun provision.

The three teachers argue that the law discriminates against transgender and nonbinary people who work at the schools. Also, they say it violates their constitutional rights. In addition, the lawsuit said the law violates their freedom of speech.

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It claims the rule “prohibits Plaintiffs from using the titles and pronouns that express who they are, the same way that their colleagues do.” More so, the lawsuit claims that Florida stigmatizes Plaintiffs through subsection 3. It also argues that the State threatens their psychological well-being and upends their respect as educators.

The teachers added that the law puts their professions and families’ well-being on the line. Consequently, they request that Florida’s statute give way to the Constitution and laws of the United States. They also ask that the State not enforce the ordinance.

The plaintiffs are Hillsborough County high school teacher Katie Wood, a Lee County teacher using the pseudonym “Jane Doe.” Last is former Florida Virtual School teacher AV Schwandes, who they terminated for violating the law after using gender-neutral pronouns.

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According to the 61-page complaint, plaintiffs are current and former Florida public school teachers. “They simply wanted to teach math, science, and their other school subjects of expertise.” However, earlier this year, “Florida enacted a law that pushed one plaintiff out of their teaching career,” the complaint continued.

Consequently, the lawsuit claims that the law threatens to do the same for the other transgender and nonbinary teachers across Florida. The defendants include the Florida Department of Education, its Education Practices Commission members, and the State Board of Education.

Others include the Florida Virtual School Board of Trustees and the school boards for Lee and Hillsborough counties. In 2022, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill prohibiting the discussion of sexual orientation or gender identity in classrooms.

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Consequently, numerous states passed and introduced similar legislation, which opponents have called “Don’t Say Gay” laws. However, LGBTQ+ advocates, civil rights organizations, and federal authorities condemn these measures.

Also, the Biden administration speaks against such laws. The administration promised to reform Title IX, the 1972 law that prohibits sex-based discrimination at schools that receive federal funding.

In addition, students shared with USA TODAY that these measures leave them confused and fearful for the future. Also, the legislation worries students who may only be open to holding discussions about the LGBTQ+ community in the school.

However, despite the outrage from the LGBTQ+ community, the Florida Department of Education declined to comment on the pending litigation.

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